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Safety in the classroom has been a big topic this summer as schools across the county return to full-time, in person instruction. UC Berkeley Infectious disease specialist Dr. John Swartzberg said, with the highly transmissible delta variant, more people in general are getting infected, including the young.

“We are seeing a lot more children get infected,” Swartzberg said. “But what we don't know is whether that's out of proportion with the number of people getting infected today, because delta is doing a much better job of infecting everybody who is immune to it.”

Swartzberg says there isn't data showing that delta causes more severe cases in children. And here in Sonoma County, while kids between the ages of five and 17 currently make up 14 percent of cases. local data shows that children have the lowest hospitalization rates. No resident under age twenty-four has died from the virus.

But concern for those that can't be vaccinated, those under 12, remain high.

“Unvaccinated kids, it makes parents extremely nervous,” said Dr. Brian Prystowsky, a Santa Rosa pediatrician. “And I'm one of those parents with kids seven and four years old. But the data shows that most kids do fine when they are exposed to coronavirus and have mild to no symptoms.”

Prystowsky said local enthusiasm for the vaccine is helping. 80 percent of those 12 and up have a least one vaccine shot.

“Because we are, as a community, really pushing hard to get all the people over 12 years old vaccinated, the younger kids are not as vulnerable here,” Prystowsky said.

Prystowsky said there are many reasons to get kids back into their classrooms.

 “I have a lot of hope that this school year is going to be better than last school year and that  the mental health issue is going to be so much less of an issue for the kids,” Prystowsky said. “If everyone's wearing masks in school and all of the people who are eligible are vaccinated, it's going to be a great school year.”

 

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